Dementia friend campaign launched by The News sees 1,300 people sign up

A Dementia Friends training session taking place at The News offices 

Picture: Sarah Standing (151310-481)
A Dementia Friends training session taking place at The News offices Picture: Sarah Standing (151310-481)
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A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness of dementia and encourage more people to become a dementia friend has been a huge success.

The News’ Making a Difference campaign has seen more than 1,000 people sign up to Alzheimer’s Society to become a dementia friend.

The News has done a fantastic job of not only raising awareness of dementia but also by encouraging more people to learn a little more about it

Lucie Debenham

People who sign up learn what it is like to live with the condition and then go on to support people in the community with the illness.

The number of dementia friends in Portsmouth has risen by 85 per cent since The News launched its campaign during last year’s Dementia Awareness Week.

The success of the campaign is being highlighted at the start of Local Newspaper Week which celebrates the important role local papers play.

Lucie Debenham, Alzheimer’s Society services manager for the Portsmouth area, said: ‘The News has done a fantastic job of not only raising awareness of dementia but also by encouraging more people to learn a little more about it by becoming a dementia friend.

‘The local media and newspapers are crucial to help spread the word around the community about dementia.

‘We rely heavily on them to help us battle the stigma that still surrounds the condition and they encourage a more open conversation within the community.

‘Newspaper campaigns, like this one that The News has run, can really make a difference and encourage people to seek the support that could really help them.’

She added: ‘There are 2,247 people living with dementia in Portsmouth and it’s imperative that we try and reach as many of those people as possible. We believe that with the right care and support, people can live well with dementia.

‘We now have a lot more champions – those who deliver the information sessions – as well, which also helped us increase the number of dementia friends.’

Alzheimer’s Society now has 2,827 people signed up as a dementia friend compared to 1,530 this time last year.

The scheme was launched in February 2013 by the Alzheimer’s Society and the charity is hoping to have 4m people signed up by 2020.

Dementia Awareness Week is running this week and there are a number of events happening in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas. Visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW for information.

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